The election of Jussi Halla-aho (currently holding a position as a MEP) as the new chairman of The Finns Party has caused political trouble in Finland and rebellion against the party’s new leadership. The two other government coalition parties, Keskusta and Kokoomus, announced that they do not want to continue cooperation with The Finns Party and its new management. Moreover, The Finns Party faced immediate internal splitting as 20 MPs, including all those with minister positions, decided to leave the party and form a new parliamentary group named Uusi Vaihtoehto (“New Alternative”). The Premier Minister and chairman of Keskusta, Juha Sipilä, together with the Minister of Finance and chairman of Kokoomus, Petteri Orpo, commented that the gap in common values between the three government parties has grown now to the extent that the government cannot continue its work in its current composition anymore.
Much of this political mutiny and resentment is based on Halla-aho’s past convictions. In 2010, the Helsinki Court of appeal convicted Halla-aho for breach of the sanctity of religion for the quite Islamophobic statements in his personal blog Scripta. He declared in his posts for instance, that “Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile and Islam justifies pedophilia and. Pedophilia was Allah’s will.” The statement was then ordered by court to be deleted from the blog. However, although the posts date back to 2008, Halla-aho stated in an interview after the recent elections that he is not going to distance himself from his previous blog posts.
Jussi Halla-aho is not however the only member in the party leadership with public statements against Islam that have led to convictions. Namely, MP Teuvo Hakkarainen, the new second Vice-Chair of the party, was convicted in 2017 for incitement to hatred due to his facebook-posts that stated “Get Muslims out of this country! Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.” Moreover, Jussi Halla-aho’s profile as a politician is also very much marked by his aggressive anti-immigration policies. For instance, in 2016, Halla-aho submitted a written question at the European Parliament proposing application of ethnic profiling “to prevent Islamic terrorism” by police officers in the member states, explicitly overthrowing Human Rights which are tightly connected to such questionable measures.